With the country in a recession, the government has been working hard to get businesses back on their feet and consumers buying again. People all over the country have watched the availability of loans decrease while the cost of living increases. Buyers have become more conscious of cost, going out of their way to get better prices. Many stores have begun to offer a layaway for their customers’ convenience, while other stores have gone bankrupt or filed for bankruptcy protection during this economic downturn.
Even students at Rider have taken a closer look at the economy when making plans for spring break. According to a poll conducted this week, only 15 percent of students polled plan on taking a vacation, compared with about 25 percent last year. This year, 28 percent of students cited the bad economy as affecting their plans, and an additional 12 percent mentioned high gas prices. The cost of traveling affected students’ plans both this year and last year.
While Rider students are examining their personal finances, the Student Government Association (SGA) Finance Board is almost out of money. The Finance Board helps to fund clubs and organizations on campus with a percentage of the $125 Student Activity Fee (SAF) that every Rider student has to pay each semester. The Finance Board began the fall semester with $153,592, and after funds fell to just $21,000 in November, SGA asked for additional funds that were originally allocated to pay for the installation of a turf field, which was cancelled.
Most years, the board is out of money by the middle of April, but this year, the board was down to $2,000 by February. Many clubs and organizations are now struggling to get some sort of funding for their spring activities.
Leaders in SGA are working to get more money to help fund the clubs that need it, but this is not really the solution. The SGA Finance Board has a responsibility to all of Rider’s clubs and organizations, and more careful planning is needed in order to fairly distribute the money that is given to them. There should be no need during an average school year, especially during a recession, to ask for more funds. The fall semester alone cost the Finance Board over $100,000. It seems as if the board didn’t count on there being another semester after winter break, or maybe the board expected that the clubs and organizations wouldn’t need any money for the spring semester. Major budgeting changes need to be made in order to account for both semesters.
Alex D’Amico, the SGA treasurer, mentioned that the Finance Board is now going over proposals for money with “a finer-toothed comb.” This change in policy seems like it is too little too late. When the Finance Board realized that there were a lot of activities planned for the fall semester, they should have begun to carefully budget money to each of the 55 clubs and organizations that ran proposals by the board last fall.
With bad budgeting, lack of concern for activities in the spring semester or the idea that there is always more where that came from, the Finance Board has sent organizations like the TV studio scrambling for money when they need it the most. A national competition is coming up and four of the TV studio’s programs are nominated for awards, but students are unable to get the funding they need to attend the academic conference. Opportunities such as networking and other learning experiences will be missed. The short-term answer to this is to take money from somewhere else, but in the long run, this is not the way that the SGA Finance Board should distribute money.
These weekly editorials expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News editorial board and is written by the Opinion Editor, Nadine Tester.